Nigeria is a nation of some 150 million people divided by religion, Christian in the south and Muslim in the north.Strict Islamic law dominates in many of Nigeria’s northern states where the control exercised by their secular state governments diminishes.
The number killed in religious violence in the past decade exceeds the ability to record such events, but like so much of Africa these conflicts often begin as struggles for political freedom and in Nigeria it was the demand that the wealth of that country be used for the benefit of the nation as a whole. North Africa has been a hot-bed of jihadist fervour for decades, and has spread southward engulfing country after country in its wake.
Few conflicts have at their root a single source and Nigeria is no different, but in terms of faith we have been witnessing the spread of Islam by the sword for decades in this region of the world.
One cannot judge history by one’s personal involvement in it, but in the early 1980’s while in Ethiopia, a representative of a Christian community begged me to seek outside help for the besieged Christians there.His words will always haunt me, and drove me to visit that country often.
He said that it was too late for his generation, but perhaps the international community would save the children, and give them a chance to survive. "It is the sword of Islam that is taking our lives," he stated.I naturally asked if he had appealed to the international community, the Americans, the British, others?He answered, "Yes, and now I am appealing to you."
What we, Americans, do in these circumstances is open our doors to those who can escape the violence.Two participants in the killings in Bosnia are being extradited from the US to face trial for their crimes in that war.This example to show that those able to escape are just as likely to be the perpetrators as the innocent, the common thread is knowledge and ability to get through the exit system.
International law, what little of it makes a difference and is enforceable, sanctions combatants from attacking non-combatants, civilians.When a group of radical Muslims shoot into the homes of Christians knowing they will flee, and have machete wielding members of their jihadist militia waiting to hack them to death while they try to escape, these acts constitute crimes against humanity.
One might ask about the role of the police and other civil authorities in these affairs? One might ask, and such questions are perhaps not to late to make a difference.
If the government of Nigeria was not so corrupt, for example, there is a not so funny joke which states that a Nigerian graduate student’s ideal job is to work for the customs service so they can become rich.
And, while Nigeria descends into and continues a decades-old religious war, oil flows from its territory and profits flow into the bank accounts, not of the nation, but those of other nations eager to swell their foreign currency accounts with increasingly deflated reserve currency dollars.
There should and can be parallels drawn to the situation in the Sudan, but it is just as likely that the lesson drawn will be that we can turn a blind eye, and everything will be alright.